12 February 2014


Sliders: Psychic Circle

Three more Sliders episodes to go before I get through my incomplete set, and I can't wait! It's getting harder and harder to come up with titles for these posts. =P While blogging Season 1, I took my cue from the idea of alternative earths and picked titles that gave a sense of place. But Season 2 itself can't seem to be bothered about its own settings. 

If I had known that it would be this bad . . . that is, if a psychic had told me that it would be a huge bust . . . oh, I would be watching it anyway and kicking myself for not having listened. LOL!

But why not use a more recent image? =P

This episode is mostly a crock, but the alt-history timeline is worth thinking about. In this world, a psychic warned US President Abraham Lincoln that someone would attempt to assassinate him in a theatre, and so he was able to take precautions to prevent his death. The accuracy of the prediction impressed him so much that he created the office of Prime Oracle, ensuring that the US government would always be one step ahead of both enemies and natural disasters.

Now, I vaguely remembered reading about a psychic warning for Lincoln which went unheeded, so I did some quick checking to see if there were indeed a plausible branching off point between our world and this one. What I learned was that there was no middleman psychic: Lincoln had had his own premonitions of death, both in dreams and in visions while awake, and had believed in them. He just didn't know what to do about them.

On the other hand, there was another US president who got repeated and increasingly specific warnings from someone else that there would be an attempt on his life. And if you have to ask me who that is, then you never read that list of "amazing coincidences" between the lives (and deaths) of Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. (If this episode is anything to go by, they're tied together in pop culture as well!) That is, it's not just the dawning of the Age of Aquarius which would make 1963 a better choice for the historical split than 1865.

But to continue arguing with myself, 1865 also carries the distinction of being the year the US Secret Service was created. This agency's original purpose was to detect counterfeit currency; a few years later, its responsibilities were extended to all kinds of fraud against the government. Only much later did it also become a protection agency. You see where I'm going with this information dump, right? In a parallel world where psychic powers are taken seriously, it makes sense that the detection of lies and the foiling of plots would be the domain of the super intuitive. =D This episode didn't need to create a Prime Oracle; it just needed to give the Secret Service its own "double"!

Of course, the real issue for us is the kind of trouble someone from our world might get into in this world. Strangely, the premise, "Romantic karma from a past life catches up to you," is not a very satisfying answer. (Which movie is the show ripping off here? I can't tell.) I wish the producers had been willing to play up the subplot in which two of our sliders are arrested, fingerprinted, and booked for a crime someone only foresaw them committing. If only because it would raise some issues about surveillance which would be really fun to discuss today! Bwahahahahahahaha!

And even if you like romantic conflict, surely you are tired by now of our on-again, off-again lovebirds making each other jealous with people from every other world. So how about a story in which they finally make their relationship official . . . only for a psychic matchmaking service to tell them that their pairing will end in tragedy? In a culture where nobody leaves the future to chance, you can bet that people will only marry a "sure thing." What would happen if their values went up against those of two "gamblers" from our world, who have been playing "universe roulette" for a year?

Your Turn to Slide: If you could know one thing for certain about your future, what would it be?


Sheila said...

First I thought, "I want to know if I will ever have a farm." And then I thought, "But if the answer is no, it takes away the one dream which is my main escape when my life gets intolerable. I'd rather just believe it will happen."

Then I thought, "I'd like to know if John will die young (as he is always insisting will happen)." If the answer is no, that's a weight off my mind (and I can tell him I told him so). If it's yes, I don't think I could live with that knowledge. So again, I'd rather not ask.

Pretty much the same thing with my kids. I worry sometimes that they will die before me. But do I really want to *know*? Not really, no.

I think I'll go with the future being a mystery. I don't think we could bear our lives if it weren't. We'd live in fear of the bad things that would happen to us -- because in every life there are at least a few.

Enbrethiliel said...


My original question for this post was: "If you could learn about your future, would you want to?" But I figured that most people would just say no. ;-)

As for my answer to the actual question, it's the same as yours. Not because I don't want to live in fear of the future, but because I want to enjoy the adventure of not knowing for certain what comes next.

DMS said...

Great question. I think I would like to know if I will ever win the lottery. It seems like a safe question, because like Sheila a lot of questions could lead me to more worry. But the lottery would be helpful because I don't but tickets all the time, but I could stop buying them altogether if I will never win and if I will win, then- I guess I will make sure to get my tickets. :) This could still go wrong, as I could spend a lot of money hoping to win, so maybe I would need to know when I would win.

Interesting about Lincoln and his premonitions. I have always been fascinated about the connections between Lincoln and Kennedy.

Thanks for sharing this episode and your thoughts. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


That's a good one! People don't seriously aspire to win the lottery, so learning that they will never win won't crush them. But I like your word of caution. If a prediction hinged on a condition, we could go overboard trying to fulfill that condition.